I get asked many questions about Slovenia, often of the “this must be fakenews, right?” variety. Let’s get a few of the safe-for-work ones out of the way before we move on to transgender doctors shagging man-killer dogs* and worse**.
*Yes you read that right.
**It does get worse.
Is the Prime Minister of Slovenia a former comedian and the President of Slovenia a former model?
Yes. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Marjan Šarec, used to be an actor, an impersonator and a comedian, and according to some he still is, (he’s alright, as far as politicians go). And our President, Mr. Borut Pahor used to be a model, and he’s never shy to flaunt his model credentials. Feel free to check out his Instagram @borutpahor. Look for beach selfies while you’re there because the dude keeps fit.
Did Slovenians recycle their failed Prime Minister and make him their President?
Yes. The abovementioned Borut Pahor used to be our PM and, fairly or not, he was widely perceived as a complete failure, as confirmed by a lost confidence vote that saw him through the door. Almost immediately*** after, he ran for president and won easily, which left some people fuming but most of us thought his new job was a much better fit. In all seriousness, Mr. Pahor comes across as a genuinely nice fellow who adores the spotlight and honestly tries to be the president of all Slovenians. And that’s a challenging job. No matter where you’re from, you probably think that your country is dangerously divided with no reconciliation in sight – welcome to the Slovenian experience! We’ve been living in this highly-polarised political reality for… well forever, actually, if you discount a few decades of Socialism when people hated each other more quietly. Anyway, all I can do is wish the best of luck to anyone who tries to preside over such a hot mess. As for the rest of us: relax, it’s going to be okay. Maybe.
***People winning all kinds of elections after a three-week campaign has become a regular occurrence in Slovenia.
Why doesn’t the Slovenian president look over a hundred years old?
Because he’s not. You’re thinking Boris Pahor the writer, who is a different fella altogether. Boris (not Borut) Pahor is one truly extraordinary individual. He fought the Nazis (who sent him to Dachau not once but twice), condemned the Commies and survived them both. He’s currently giving a hard time to Italian neo-fascists. If you need to be reminded of what war, Nazism and Fascism look like up close, do read his autobiographical novel Necropolis about his WWII interment. The guy has just turned 106 (that is: one-hundred-and-six years old). Sharp as a knife, he is well-informed on the current goings-ons, and maintains a keen interest in politics for reasons that don’t need to be explained (in case they do: the man has scars to prove what can happen when politics goes awry). As the result of his international recognition, undisputed courage and miraculously intact faculties, he gets to say whatever he likes, and people listen. And you thought you were special.
Is Melania Trump really Slovenian?
Apparently this gets asked. Yes, she most certainly is Slovenian, from Slovenia. She was born when Slovenia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia (that’s the Balkan country that imploded in a series of genocides, mass rapes and general butchery known as the Yugoslav Wars in the 90s, and proceeded to shatter into a number of smaller countries, among them Slovenia we know today). I remember Melania well from when she was embarking on her modelling career – I used to watch modelling contests and beauty pageants religiously as a kid – and yes, she is real, she is Slovenian, and she is from the town of Sevnica in Slovenia. She was born Melanija Knavs and later switched to a more internationally-friendly Melania Knauss, so maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. Oddly enough, her fellow Sevnica-born Tanja Pečar is the life-partner of our President Borut Pahor (the model dude from above). That’s right, at least two different countries have first ladies from the same small Slovenian town. And there may be others because the fact you were born in Sevnica is not necessarily one you care to advertise.
Continue reading A bit like Snopes but for Slovenia